Arkansas Fish & Game officers stop zebra mussels from entering Table Rock Lake

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 5:43 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Ark. (KY3) - An Arkansas Fish and Game officer ticketed a Bull Shoals boater after discovering Zebra Mussels attached to the houseboat launching into Table Rock Lake.

On May 24, a marina operator at the Cricket Creek Marina stopped the houseboat’s owner from launching into Table Rock after observing Zebra Mussels attached to the boat. The marina operator quickly notified an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) Enforcement Officer to intervene.

“They can get on anything, a boat or a jet ski, and once they’re on that vehicle, you take it to another body of water, they can infest it,” said Ralph Sizemore, a regular at Bull Shoals. “It’s very damaging to the ecosystem. Everybody needs to be careful and keep their boats clean, especially their motors.“

The first confirmed discovery of Zebra Mussels in north-central Arkansas occurred in 2007 in Bull Shoals Lake near Lead Hill. Although Zebra Mussels are prevalent in Bull Shoals Lake, there has been no official documentation in Beaver, Greers Ferry, Norfork, or Table Rock Lake.

”The Zebra mussels, they cling to shrubbery and bushes and obviously the undersides of boats,” said Dana Swing, owner of Sugarloaf Harbor Marina. “But when the water recedes, they dry out and die. I think pressure washing goes a long way. Take it out, pressure-wash it, and leave it in a place it can dry out.“

AGFC recommends drying for five days to ensure no further contamination. In the May 24 incident, officers required ten days and an inspection before launching into Table Rock Lake.

”Zebra Mussels are a prohibited species in the state of Arkansas,” explained Matt Horton, the aquatic nuisance species coordinator. “Which means you can’t import, transport, or possess them. If you are caught transporting zebra mussels on your boat, motor, or whatever. You could receive a citation.”

The same goes for Missouri, where in 2011, a judge issued the maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and six months probation. Punishment could be harsher if transported across state lines.

Horton says the best way to avoid spread is to simply clean, drain, and dry your boat before transporting it to another body of water.

“If you transport them across state lines, that could evoke the Lacey Act, which could mean a federal violation,” said Horton.

The citation was the first zebra mussel citation written in 2022. Click here to learn more about aquatic nuisance species or report a sighting.

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